The Mangrove Killifish
The Mangrove Killifish
Disentangling the distribution of the mangrove amphibious killifish, amazing and tiny estuarine fish that live in magrove forest pools

Latest Expeditions

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Ambassadors of the Sea in Costa Rica´s Caribbean coast has been developing a community stewardship project: preserve coral reefs as of 2016 and now in 2020 it is grounding after four years of training of its youth to undertake the challenge
2posts
Our project seeks to understand relationships between black bears and humans on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada towards promoting co-existence between people and our wild neighbors.
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I will be travelling across the Pacific Ocean on SV Paradigme 2 collecting observations for INaturalist. As I sail from California to Hawaï and French Polynesia, I will be taking pictures of wildlife encountered along the journey.
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England, United Kingdom, Apr 3 2015 to Feb 28 2019
The Black Bream Project
Documenting the secret breeding lives of black seabream off the UK’s Jurassic Coast for the very first time. By Matt Doggett, Martin Openshaw, Sheilah Openshaw and Polly Whyte

Recent Observations

Eye to eye We dive to enjoy the privilege of exploring a completely different world, to experience its wonderful sense of weightlessness, to look inside ourselves. Of course, we also dive to visit wild seascapes and those who inhabit them. Most of us probably do not frequently consider what all the sea creatures think about us, whether they are interested in us at all. But once in a while, something unexpected occurs and tables turn. Then you may find yourself at the receiving end of someone's attention. As I glide over the top of the Devil's Jaw I don't know that I am being watched. Visibility is bad today and I swim close to the seafloor, looking for something to photograph. But I am jerked out of my reverie when I hear Cesar shout into his regulator. As always he is slightly ahead of me and I lift my eyes to find him. But instead of the familiar figure of a diver with split fins, I am staring into a giant black carpet. Manta. Big one! I have one ton and a half of fish five feet away from me. If it hadn't been for Cesar, I might have never known. I stare. The manta floats past me slowly and as I turn to follow I see how it dips gently and folds its huge pectoral fin to carve a slow right turn. As it travels, its form dissipating into the greenish hues of cold, murky water, I lean sideways to intercept it on what I judge will be its future course. I know better than to try chasing it. A second or two later I cannot see it anymore. I wait. The abyss of the Jaw looms black below me. I wait some more. Just as I start thinking I was wrong and the manta is gone for good, I see it again. It is moving slowly, but steadily towards me. It keeps coming. Another stroke of its fins brings it within a touching distance. It passes at my level and I can see its large eye lock into mine. We are looking at each other for a second, two, three. The manta holds a steady speed and I need to start kicking to keep up. It carries two very large remoras on its head. The one closer to me, a sizable fish in itself with about 3 feet length, shudders and moves off slightly unnerved by my proximity. Meanwhile, the manta, completely untroubled holds my stare. Eventually, I stop kicking and the manta slowly drifts off, following the same arching path. I see Cesar some 20 feet away patiently waiting for his turn. He doesn't have to wait long. A moment later the manta moves past him, dips its fin, and glides away. I cannot see it anymore, but I have the feeling this encounter isn't over yet. I wait. Hanging above the blackness, the rocky shelf on my left I contemplate the green wall of cloudy water and wait. Then the manta comes again. What happens next is a carbon copy of its last pass. A few seconds within an arm's reach from me, looking into my masked face, remoras freaking out. Then past Cesar and gone into the void. This is amazing. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the manta chooses to come back to us. I am not sure what to call it. Interest? Curiosity? Both terms sound somehow lame to me. Then Cesar signals to me with his hands. He will lead the rest of our dive group back to the surface. I check my gauges. I have plenty of air, but this being our second dive my non-deco will start chasing me up in a few minutes, too. I am not ready to leave yet though. I move away from the vertical wall below me and aim for the main mass of the islet. I look up and see my buddies disappear from sight. I cannot see the manta anymore. I swim on. Another minute and I reach the islet's main wall. I am at 30 feet depth now and my non-deco jumps to a comfortable 40 minutes. I have 1000 psi in my tank. As I look for another photo opportunity a movement over my left shoulder catches my eye. I turn. The manta is back. This is astonishing. How on earth did it even find me in this mess? The visibility is lousy 15 feet here. Just as before, the manta approaches in a swooping arc. In a few seconds, it is so close I could practically kiss it. Water conditions being what they are, I didn't see much point in taking a photo before. Now I raise my camera. The side of its face, topped by its starboard remora fills my wide-angle. I snap a portrait of my new companion, slightly afraid to spook it with my flash. The event doesn't seem to bother it one bit though and it continues on its circular cruise. This is truly wonderful. Before I run out of air 20 minutes later, the manta comes back repeatedly to within an arm's length of me. Even as I ascend to my safety stop I can see its dim shadow circling below. "Is it looking for me?", I have to ask myself. I don't know of course. But it sure feels like it. I am often sorry when the limits of scuba command me to return to the surface, now I feel almost sad. I wish I could stay longer and try to figure out what drives this magnificent animal to seek our company. Thanks to scientific research we know mantas are smart, large-brained, possessing problem-solving capacity, and possibly even self-aware. But it is one thing to read a paper, and quite another to play a part in an underwater interspecies handshake. It is unforgettable ...
At the start of 2020, the DPA project outlined a roadmap for how we wanted the year to look -- which collections to prioritize for inventorying and digitization, training team members for new skills, and how we wanted to share our work with the National Geographic staff, as well as the general public. The team had applied for a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to conserve and digitize our Early Color Photography Collection, consisting of over 15,000 glass plate photographs in 2019, so we were hopeful that this collection would come to the fore. In March, as the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic became more apparent, we were forced to begin working from home, unable to work with any of our physical collections that had not already been digitized. Though we missed being in the office, in May we received the wonderful news that we won the grant and would have the opportunity to dive into work on this collection. When we were allowed to return to the office on a limited basis in June (two days a week per person, with only one person in a work area at any given time), we at least knew that most of our time in the office would be spent working with our historic Early Color Photography Collection. Our Early Color Photography collection comprises much of the National Geographic Society’s earliest color photography. With approximately 13,000 glass plate autochromes and other early photographic processes, it is, to our knowledge, one of the largest collections of its kind in the world. Along with Agfacolor, Dufaycolor, and Finlaycolor processes, the Autochrome Lumiere process was one of a number of additive color processes used to produce color photographs during the first half of the twentieth century. Invented in 1903 by the Lumiere brothers, and commercially marketed after 1907, the Autochrome Lumiere process used microscopic potato starch grains (dyed red, green, and blue) to filter light onto a silver halide emulsion layer. After a positive transparency was created, light could be shone through the autochrome plate, enabling viewership of the image. The era of autochromes and other early color processes lasted until the 1930s and early 1940s. Autochromes used fragile glass plates and sensitive chemicals that could not compete as commercially viable against the newer Kodachrome and Ektachrome processes, both of which proved easier for photographers to work with in the field. Given these concerns for the long-term preservation of the glass plates, our team deemed it necessary to start the process of repairing damaged plates and entering metadata into an inventory in advance of creating digital surrogates of the historic photographs. With each team member initially taking one bay of the photo archive’s autochrome aisle (each bay consisting of about 50 boxes of ~20 plates each), we set about tackling our task. First, we’ve examined each plate for damage such as cracks, loose or missing tape that might be exposing the emulsion layer, and degradation of the image. The condition of each plate is noted in the inventory spreadsheet, and any that are deemed to have preservation concerns are set aside to be examined by a conservator. The plates are stored inside paper envelopes that feature valuable information showing the photographer, collection, the month and year the plate was received by National Geographic, and captions of varying levels of detail. As we are carrying out this work in the somewhat chilly confines of our climate-controlled photo archive, we have generally found it optimal to capture this information on our phones, entering the metadata into the spreadsheet while working from home. At the same time our work on the inventory was taking place, Digital Preservation Archive Manager Julie McVey and Senior Photo Archivist Sara Manco took the lead on our conservation efforts, which were made possible by funding received from our NEG grant. After completing in-person training with Barb Lemmen, Senior Photograph Conservator at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA), Julie and Sara examined all the plates we had flagged as damaged during the course of the inventory. The most common issues we found with the plates included: loose or missing tape around the edges of the plate; cracks or scratches on the glass plates; and color loss or shifting on the emulsion level. Some of this damage is irreversible and can only be mitigated by storing the plates in climate-controlled conditions until they undergo digitization. Plates with cracks and scratches that endanger the long-term health of the plates are prepared to be shipped out for conservation work, while Julie and Sara trained with Barb in order to properly repair plates that have loose or missing tape, carrying out this work in-house. Unfortunately the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases has led our senior leadership team to disallow access to NGS headquarters, except for essential employees, until at least January, so further work on the NEH grant will mostly have to wait until we can return. Health of course takes precedence at this time! We hope that whenever in 2021 we are allowed to return, we can get back to working on the autochrome collection, and eventually digitize these historic images and make them available to our users. Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: http://www.neh.gov.
At the start of 2020, the DPA project outlined a roadmap for how we wanted the year to look -- which collections to prioritize for inventorying and digitization, training team members for new skills, and how we wanted to share our work with the National Geographic staff, as well as the general public. The team had applied for a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to conserve and digitize our Early Color Photography Collection, consisting of over 15,000 glass plate photographs in 2019, so we were hopeful that this collection would come to the fore. In March, as the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic became more apparent, we were forced to begin working from home, unable to work with any of our physical collections that had not already been digitized. Though we missed being in the office, in May we received the wonderful news that we won the grant and would have the opportunity to dive into work on this collection. When we were allowed to return to the office on a limited basis in June (two days a week per person, with only one person in a work area at any given time), we at least knew that most of our time in the office would be spent working with our historic Early Color Photography Collection. Our Early Color Photography collection comprises much of the National Geographic Society’s earliest color photography. With approximately 13,000 glass plate autochromes and other early photographic processes, it is, to our knowledge, one of the largest collections of its kind in the world. Along with Agfacolor, Dufaycolor, and Finlaycolor processes, the Autochrome Lumiere process was one of a number of additive color processes used to produce color photographs during the first half of the twentieth century. Invented in 1903 by the Lumiere brothers, and commercially marketed after 1907, the Autochrome Lumiere process used microscopic potato starch grains (dyed red, green, and blue) to filter light onto a silver halide emulsion layer. After a positive transparency was created, light could be shone through the autochrome plate, enabling viewership of the image. The era of autochromes and other early color processes lasted until the 1930s and early 1940s. Autochromes used fragile glass plates and sensitive chemicals that could not compete as commercially viable against the newer Kodachrome and Ektachrome processes, both of which proved easier for photographers to work with in the field. Given these concerns for the long-term preservation of the glass plates, our team deemed it necessary to start the process of repairing damaged plates and entering metadata into an inventory in advance of creating digital surrogates of the historic photographs. With each team member initially taking one bay of the photo archive’s autochrome aisle (each bay consisting of about 50 boxes of ~20 plates each), we set about tackling our task. First, we’ve examined each plate for damage such as cracks, loose or missing tape that might be exposing the emulsion layer, and degradation of the image. The condition of each plate is noted in the inventory spreadsheet, and any that are deemed to have preservation concerns are set aside to be examined by a conservator. The plates are stored inside paper envelopes that feature valuable information showing the photographer, collection, the month and year the plate was received by National Geographic, and captions of varying levels of detail. As we are carrying out this work in the somewhat chilly confines of our climate-controlled photo archive, we have generally found it optimal to capture this information on our phones, entering the metadata into the spreadsheet while working from home. At the same time our work on the inventory was taking place, Digital Preservation Archive Manager Julie McVey and Senior Photo Archivist Sara Manco took the lead on our conservation efforts, which were made possible by funding received from our NEG grant. After completing in-person training with Barb Lemmen, Senior Photograph Conservator at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA), Julie and Sara examined all the plates we had flagged as damaged during the course of the inventory. The most common issues we found with the plates included: loose or missing tape around the edges of the plate; cracks or scratches on the glass plates; and color loss or shifting on the emulsion level. Some of this damage is irreversible and can only be mitigated by storing the plates in climate-controlled conditions until they undergo digitization. Plates with cracks and scratches that endanger the long-term health of the plates are prepared to be shipped out for conservation work, while Julie and Sara trained with Barb in order to properly repair plates that have loose or missing tape, carrying out this work in-house. Unfortunately the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases has led our senior leadership team to disallow access to NGS headquarters, except for essential employees, until at least January, so further work on the NEH grant will mostly have to wait until we can return. Health of course takes precedence at this time! We hope that whenever in 2021 we are allowed to return, we can get back to working on the autochrome collection, and eventually digitize these historic images and make them available to our users. Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

The S.E.E. Initiative

Empowering people to explore and protect the ocean